Watch Out For Falling Bricks!

Every year, our children's Head of School chooses a theme for the year. This year, the theme he chose is based on the book of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. So, like any good student, I reread the book of Nehemiah over the summer. I love the story because it demonstrates triumphant in the face of adversity. It encourages my heart to be steadfast. I felt rejuvenated after reading it. Then, I filed it away. I tucked those nuggets into my heart for just the right moment.

That moment came just a couple of weeks ago. The moment had nothing to do with the school's yearly theme, however, it had everything to do with a battle that is being waged at my own "wall." For the past few months, our household has been under attack. The attack has been both a spiritual one and an earthly one. My husband's business has been targeted, his integrity has been questioned and our family and our home have been mocked and threatened. What once could have completely destroyed us, now could not because we are grounded in the truth that "no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication [fn] from me, declares the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17, ESV)

The Holy Spirit always has the ability to show up at just the right time, doesn't He? On one particularly rough morning, a dear friend of mine texted me to say that she heard the latest news from her husband and wanted to make sure I was okay. My response to her was this, "I have a lot of emotions, most of which are ugly and not very godly at all! Working through it in my heart...clearly affecting my temper and my mood :-(." I was being honest. There was no sense in lying because God knew what my heart was feeling anyway. I was mad. I was frustrated. I was sad. My flesh wanted to scream at people. My flesh wanted to blast out an incredibly ugly email. My flesh wanted to get in the car and pound on someone's door. I was at my wit's end and I had had enough of this. My poor husband, bless him, was enduring his own struggles and emotions about it all and I was trying to be a pillar for him, but every so often, my pillar started leaning. And but for the Holy Spirit that day, my pillar may have crumpled.

As I sat there stewing in my emotional moment, I came across Nehemiah 4:14. It says, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes." (ESV) 

Okay, God, I said, I am listening. What are you trying to tell me?

I opened up a book that I was reading at the time, The Whole Bible Story (a novel-like explanation of the whole Bible in plain English) by Dr. William H. Marty, and wouldn't you know it, the subtitle of the chapter was "Nehemiah and the Walls of Jerusalem." I could have hugged the neck of the Holy Spirit at that moment.

As I reread the account of all that took place during the rebuilding of the walls, the words jumped off the pages at me. Nehemiah also faced internal and external opposition during this season. Sanballat and Tobiah were going around mocking Nehemiah and the Israelites as they worked, Sanballat and Tobiah were mocking Nehemiah's leadership and they recruited Shemaiah to tell Nehemiah that Sanballat and Tobiah were going to kill him and that he needed to hide inside the temple (it was sinful for Nehemiah to enter into the temple). Sanballat and Tobiah were bad enough, but Nehemiah also had Jewish traitors among his ranks. I am sure Nehemiah felt many emotions during this time, however, scripture recounts on more than one occasion Nehemiah crying out to God in prayer. He remained completely focused on the task that God had given him to do even with all that was going on around him.

Would it be possible for me to do that? Would I be able to humbly serve the Lord even with all that was being said and done in my own camp?
Two weeks ago, I might have said No! I clearly wanted to be strong in the face of adversity, but honestly, I am human and live in the flesh more than I care to admit.

It has been only through prayer and the gifts of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, See Galatians 5:22-23) that my emotions have softened. I didn't accomplish this peace without sinning. As I said, God knows my heart and therefore I cannot keep my thoughts from Him, but I was able to better control my flesh. Even my words written here today are kinder than they would have been two weeks ago. How you may ask? Because through this whole ordeal, I have watched how my faith has been tested and proved. I have watched my marriage be strengthened. I have witnessed God's provision in lean times. And, I have witnessed God's powerful hand at work in the plans He has laid. 

I would not wish these adversities on anyone, but in the end, I know that the harvest will come and that He is doing this "so all who see this miracle will understand what it means - that it is the Lord who has done this." (Isaiah 41:20, NLT) And like Nehemiah, our wall will be rebuilt so that many will see and hear how it was God who did the work, not us.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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Jenni - June 4th, 2014 at 11:28am

The Isaiah verse is one I will tuck away for my children when they face their own storms. Thank you for the encouragement!